PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is a well-known fact that New Yorkers in search of the hard to find perfect apartment often cruise the obituary notices. Recently however, more local buyers looking for a deal on their next home are leafing through the legal notices for couples divorcing.

One local expert says this is nothing new but you need to find out if there is a property settlement agreement in place before you place a bid.

“Because it is so tough to get a house nowadays, with all of the short sales and foreclosures, people are getting very creative in how they search for homes,” said Arlene Shaw, of Keller Williams Horsham and Plymouth Rock Search and Abstract.

However, Shaw says this route can be fraught with peril.

“You don’t know from the get go whether you are going to have an easy or difficult time. Think of it like an onion,” Shaw said. “You start with the first layer and each layer sometimes come off very quickly and easily. Sometimes they don’t.”

That is why Shaw says it is crucial you involve a realtor, real estate lawyer or a title company to make sure this property really is cleared to be sold or whether you are about to enmesh yourself in someone’s nightmare divorce.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio

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